By Nancy Aird
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted on July 26, 1990. It guaranteed equal access to individuals with disabilities to state and local programs, services, programs, activities, and facilities, which included support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith and community-based organizations, and private sources. FEMAs’ Whole Community preparedness approach promotes integrating people with access and functional needs (AFN) into general emergency shelters or other areas.
In 2007, the California Department of Social Services created the Functional Assessment Service Team (FAST) program after Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath showed sheltering thousands of disaster victims needed pre-incident and proper coordination. FAST provides trained teams with experience and knowledge to identify and assist AFN individuals at shelters, feeding operations, or assistance centers promoting health, safety, and independence during the disaster.
Pierce County Emergency Management partners with Pierce County FAST to provide AFN individuals access to ADA and FEMA Whole Community accommodation shelters.
Some of the FAST responsibilities include the following list: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/Mass-Care-and-Shelter/FAST
1. Conduct assessments and evaluations of individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
2. Identify and track necessary resources so individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs can maintain their health, safety, and independence while residing in shelters.
3. Assess the need for Personal Assistance Services, durable medical equipment, consumable medical supplies, and prescribed medications.
4. Develop and implement service plans for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs to meet those identified’ essential functional needs.
5. Advise individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs on recovery services available. Coordinate services and maintain contacts and service notes.
6. Facilitate and provide technical assistance to shelter staff related to resources for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
7. Ongoing coordination and collaboration with shelter management.
If you are interested in learning more about FAST training, please call Ivan Tudela at (253) 798-2203 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ivan is the coordinator for FAST at Pierce County Emergency Management Department. Other organizations and government agencies from various states are using this model. Check with your local groups to see if FAST is in being used your area.